Author Archive

Luncheons – Over the Years


While we cannot be together this year to celebrate legal history at our Annual Membership Luncheon, we can look back at some of our past luncheon vignettes. On this date in 2009, Professor Norman Otto Stockmeyer presented on the famous cow case Sherwood v Walker. Read Professor Stockmeyer’s vignette here. You can also view the PowerPoint here.

You can also read more about the case in our Verdict of History here as well as more about the case including poems about Rose under “The Forgotten Years” here.

To read more Annual Membership Luncheon vignettes, visit this page. To watch videos of a select number* of our previous luncheons, visit our YouTube channel here (then like & subscribe).


*Unfortunately, not all of our previous luncheons were recorded on video. Everything we do have, however, has been uploaded to YouTube.

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For the first time since we began the event in 1992, the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society will not host its popular Annual Membership Luncheon at the Detroit Athletic Club this spring. Originally, this  year’s Luncheon had been scheduled for Thursday, May 14th; however, the COVID-19 crisis has required that we change our plans. This year’s Luncheon is canceled; next year’s Luncheon will be held on April 15, 2021.

Since we can’t meet for the Luncheon this spring, we thought we would show you some of the vignettes from over the past 28 years. Even better, for a few of them we have video — so you can feel as if you were there (and maybe you were!). We’ll continue to share and update this page. For now, here are links to the videos on our YouTube channel. Please like and subscribe!

Dennis Archer — April 13, 2000 — watch here!

Thomas Brennan — April 26, 2001 — watch here!

John Engler — April 18, 2002 — watch here!

Fred Baker — April 28, 2005 — watch here!

Paul Carrington — April 18, 2007 — watch here!

Lawrence Glazer — April 19, 2012 — watch it here!





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42-FeadOn this day in 1877, Louis Fead was born. Fead was appointed the 55th Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, by Governor Fred W. Green on February 21, 1928, succeeding Richard Flannigan who had died a few days earlier while still in service to the Court.

Fead is notable for having presided over the trial of “King Ben” of the Israelite House of David on public nuisance charges while he was a judge of the Eleventh Circuit. The Michigan Supreme Court, on hearing the appeal in the case, commended Justice Fead for his handling of a lengthy and complicated trial involving “…51 days of actual trial, 225 witnesses, 500 exhibits, 73 depositions, and 15,000 pages of testimony.” You can read more about this cult here.

Learn more about Fead by reading his biography here.



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FBF 2009

Today’s Flashback Friday (#FBF) is the topic of the legal vignette at the 2009 Annual Membership Luncheon was titled “Road Trip: A Look at the Places and Personalities Made Famous by Sherwood v. Walker” by WMU-Cooley Professor Emeritus Norman Otto Stockmeyer. You can view the slide show here (PowerPoint) and read the text here.

You can read more about Professor Stockmeyer here in his biography and  his role in the development of the Court of Appeals’ Research Division here.

Sherwood v. Walker is one of the Society’s top cases, profiled in the Verdict of History and featured in our book The Michigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide 2nd edition. You can read about it online here under The Forgotten Years including two poems about the famous cow case.

You can read more about one of the justices involved in the case here — Thomas Sherwood, no relation to the plaintiff of the same name.

Our book can be purchased online here and anywhere books are sold! The 2019 Annual Membership Luncheon will be held on April 18 at the Detroit Athletic Club. Invitations will be mailed soon to all members.


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15-SherwoodThomas Sherwood, 27th Michigan Supreme Court justice was born and died on March 28. His birth in 1827 was in Pleasant Valley, New York, where he spent summers on a farm.

He read law in Rochester, NY, and eventually moved to Kalamazoo. He served in private practice until April 1883 when he ran for the remainder of Isaac Marston’s term, as a candidate of the combined Democratic and Greenback Parties. His victory, and that of John Champlin, were shocking as they represented the first Republican losses in a statewide election since 1856.

Sherwood’s term on the Michigan Supreme Court overlapped with Big Four Justices Thomas M. Cooley and James V. Campbell. One of the notable opinions in which he was involved was the famous cow case Sherwood v Walker (although the Sherwood in that case was no relation to the Justice).

Sherwood was defeated by Republican and Civil War veteran Claudius Grant in 1889. He returned to his law practice and died on March 28, 1896, in Chicago, Illinois.

Read about Sherwood v Walker here >>

Read about his portrait presentation here >>

Read his memorial here >>

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Potter’s House















The house at 334 Evergreen Avenue in East Lansing, Michigan, built in 1909, was the home of Michigan Supreme Court Justice William W. Potter until his death on July 21, 1940. Potter died in an automobile crash while driving himself to his chambers at the Court (then in the Capitol).

Learn more about the house and Justice Potter in our fall newsletter here; in his biography here; and his memorial here.

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Black Friday


The official portrait of Justice Blair Moody Jr., painted by Joseph Maniscalco

The day after Thanksgiving, traditionally known as Black Friday, was on November 26 in 1982. It was on this date that Michigan Supreme Court Justice Blair Moody Jr. passed away unexpectedly. He was only 54 years old.

The subsequent appointment by lame duck Governor William Milliken of Dorothy Comstock Riley to replace Justice Moody on the Michigan Supreme Court led to a fight and a dark time in the Court’s history. Former Chief Justice Tom Brennan, who passed away earlier this fall, wrote about it in 2011 for the Legal News. You can read part III here and part VII here.

To read more about Justice Blair Moody >>

Investiture Ceremony

Portrait Presentation

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A Starr Has Died

53-StarrThe remake of A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga, was the number 2 box office movie last weekend. But it was on this date (November 2) fifty years ago that Justice Raymond Starr died.

The Michigan Supreme Court’s Starr was born in 1888, making him 80 years old when he died in 1968. Raymond Starr was born in Harbor Springs, attended Ferris Institute (now Ferris State University), and the University of Michigan Law School. He eventually settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he founded the Legal Aid Bureau. Starr was elected Attorney General in 1936, served two terms, and was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court by Governor Murray Van Wagoner in May 1941. President Truman later appointed Starr to the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan in 1946 and Starr served there until 1961.

Starr is also infamously known for telling future Governor and fellow Michigan Supreme Court Justice G. Mennen Williams, “when you go campaigning, remember there’s more votes in a bar than in a church.” Our own mid-term elections are just a few days away. No telling where you might see a candidate this weekend…

Read more about Justice Starr in his official biography here>

Starr’s portrait presentation is here>

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lindemerJustice Lawrence B. Lindemer was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court by Governor William Milliken on May 5, 1975, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Thomas M. Kavanagh. He was defeated in the vacancy election the next year by Blair Moody, Jr., who served five years before dying unexpectedly while still in service to the Court.

Lindemer has had a long and prolific career, continuing to work even at age 91 as of counsel to the law firm Foster Swift Collins & Smith. He is our oldest living former justice.

Lindemer recorded an oral history in 1990 about his time on the Michigan Supreme Court that you can listen to here. The oral history at the bottom of this post was recorded for the Capital Area District Library in 2016.

Read more about Lindemer’s life and career in his biography here.

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valentineThe longest-serving justice on the Michigan Supreme Court was James VALENTINE Campbell. Part of the Big Four, Justice Campbell served on the Court for 32 years, 2 months, and 25 days until his death on March 26, 1890.

Today is the birthday of Society President Charles Rutherford and State Bar of Michigan Executive Director Janet Welch.

The last time that Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday coincided was 1945 – when the Michigan Supreme Court still had eight justices.

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